Common Knee Conditions Treated
The simple act of getting out of bed in the morning can be painful for a person with an injured knee. Whether you’re suffering from an injury or from the gradual wear and tear of arthritis, knee pain can make it difficult for you to maintain an active lifestyle.
At Crystal Clinic, our physicians treat a wide range of both common and complex knee problems. The most frequently seen conditions are described below.
Any joint in the body may be affected by arthritis, but it is particularly common in the knee. Osteoarthritis most often affects people 50 years of age or older, and starts with the breakdown of cartilage in the joint. Symptoms include pain, reduced range of motion and swelling and stiffness in the knee, which may worsen when sitting or resting for prolonged periods. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are usually effective at relieving pain.
Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa that temporarily limits motion. It’s often the result of injury, overuse, spinal abnormalities, arthritis or surgery. Symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness in the knee. Rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are usually effective at providing relief.
A fracture is a partial or complete break in the bone. There are many different types of fractures.
Bone fractures are often caused by falls, trauma, or as a result of a direct blow or kick to the body. Overuse or repetitive motions can cause stress fractures. Fractures can also be caused by diseases that weaken the bone. These include osteoporosis or cancer in the bones. The main goal of treatment is to put the pieces of bone back in place so the bone can heal. This can be done with a splint, cast, surgery, or traction.
The knee consists of the knee cap (patella) that covers and protects the front part of the knee joint. It moves along a groove in your thighbone (femur) and is surrounded by a layer of cartilage to keep it from grinding against the femur. When this cartilage breaks down, it can cause knee pain. Typically, this can be due to repetitive stress. Overuse of the knee joint, misalignment of the patella and surrounding structures, nerve damage, inflammation and injury can all contribute to knee pain.
Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bones to each other and provide stability and strengthen the joint. There are four main ligaments in the knee: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
The ACL can tear during a sudden twisting motion and are most commonly seen in those who ski or play basketball or football. Damage to the PCL usually occurs as a result of a sudden direct impact from a car accident or a football tackle. Often, these injuries don’t cause significant pain, but you may hear a popping sound as the injury occurs, followed by the leg buckling when attempting to stand. The same is true for collateral ligament injuries. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory medications, muscle-strengthening exercises, protective bracing and icing. Surgery may be necessary to repair the tear.
Meniscus Injuries / Tears
Meniscus tears are one of the most common knee injuries. A tear may occur in different ways. Oftentimes, it can occur when playing sports, but may also happen after years of wear and tear. Older people may experience a tear from just an awkward twist when rising from a chair. Pain, stiffness and swelling, catching or locking of the knee, and limited range of motion are common symptoms. Depending on the location of the tear, surgery may or may not be necessary. Nonsurgical treatment includes RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin and ibuprofen.
Sprain and Strains
Sprains and strains are common injuries that occur among people of all ages. A sprain happens when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. Ligaments are flexible bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to bones, and bones to cartilage. Most sprains heal with getting rest and applying ice. However, if your knee is swollen and you have any difficulty putting weight on it, you’ll want to see your doctor.
Strains occur when a muscle or tendon is injured. Tendons are the fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone throughout your body. Similar to sprains, a strain may be an overstretched muscle or tendon, or it could be a partial or complete tear in the muscle and tendon combination. Pain, cramping, inflammation, muscle spasm, muscle weakness and swelling are the most common symptoms.
As with a sprain, strains heal with rest, ice, compression and elevation. For a more serious tear, surgery may be necessary.